tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC March 31, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
so it's a different situation. you can't think about the standard training in a knife attack. this is a little different. >> and they obviously completely lost any track of why they were there. this was an illegal camping case. you don't elevate good evening from new york. i'm steve kornacki in for chris hayes tonight. we begin with news about the man who was identified as a key independent eyewitness into the investigation of chris christie that we saw last week. that was the investigation conduct by lawyers hired by chris christie and purportedly clears chris christie while simultaneously discrediting those who accused his administration of wrongdoing. this man, this witness, from a report, appeared on msnbc over the weekend at the suggestion of the christie administration.
then offered on air an account i found confusing and self-contradictory in which i believe seriously calls into question the credibility of the report that would rely on him as a key witness. matt doherty, the man we're talking about, the democratic mayor of belmar, new jersey, a shore town ravaged by hurricane sandy. if you watched my show yesterday morning, you saw my interview with him. he reached out to us again with another statement, something that raises more questions, something we will get to in just a minute. first, we want to start with background on who matt doherty is and why he is so crucial to the credibility of christie's internal investigation. doherty features prominently in the report that was issued last week by randy mastro, the lawyer whose firm was hired by the christie administration to conduct that internal investigation into the various scandals that are now swirling. now, since that report was issued last thursday, since christie held his lengthy press conference on friday, since then most of the media coverage is focused on the george washington bridge lane closures.
but doherty's a key figure in the other christie administration scandal. it's the one involving allegations by the mayor of hoboken, dawn zimmer. allegations that two top officials from the administration suggested to her that her city's level of sandy recovery funding was contingent on her approval of a large development project in her city, a development project represented by the law firm of one of christie's closest confidants, samson. who until last friday was chairman of the port authority. there's an active federal investigation into zimmer's allegations that's under way and much of the mastro report, a report issued by the law firm that conducted the internal investigation for christie, much of that report is devoted to bluntly challenging dawn zimmer's story. here's how mastro, himself, characterized zimmer last week. >> we find that mayor zimmer's allegations, that members of the christie administration delivered a message from the
governor to her, threatening hoboken's sandy aid unless she supported a private development project, are not only unsubstantived, they are demon strably false in material respects. mayor zimmer's subjective perceptions do not match the objective reality reflected in the hard evidence that we uncovered during our investigation. in fact, they are contradicted by contemporaneous documents, witness accounts, and her own prior statements. >> dawn zimmer fired back after that saying, "randy mastro could have written his report the day he was hired, saved taxpayers the millions of dollars in fees he billed in generating this one-sided whitewash of serious misconduct by the christie administration." now this is where matt doherty comes in. mastro's report. devotes an entire section to him, under the heading, quote,
an independent eyewitness convicts mayor zimmer's account. specifically doherty was present when zimmer had a conversation in may of 2013 with a member of christie's cabinet. that's a man named richard constable who runs the department of community affairs. occasion was a televised town hall at monmouth. to discuss sandy recovery. zimmer and constable were seated next to each other at the event. zimmer alleges before the program began, she had a conversation which constable suggested to her that hoboken would receive the sandy funds she was seeking if she approved that big development project. project that was proposed by something known as the rockefeller group. zimmer shared with us and then with federal prosecutors a contemporaneous diary entry that describes what she says happened. "we are miked up with other panelists all around us and probably the sound team is listening and he says, i hear hear you are against the rockefeller project. i reply, i am not against the rockefeller project. in fact, i want more commercial development in hoboken. oh, really? everyone in the statehouse believes you are against it. the buzz is that you are against it.
if you move that forward, money would start flowing to you, he tells me." that's from her diary. constable has vehemently denied her charges. the mastro report sides with him and sides against dawn zimmer. sitting on that same stage with zimmer and constable on that night was matt doherty. he is the independent eyewitness the mastro report relies on, one who supposedly undermines zimmer's allegation. "mayor doherty heard the conversation between mayor zimmer and commissioner constable and was with them on stage before the start of the show and throughout the broadcast and doherty was well positioned to hear the conversation. he was at the end of the first row and therefore not speaking with anyone else while mayor zimmer spoke with commissioner constable. mayor doherty said he never heard commissioner constable say anything to mayor zimmer in words or substance along the lines of mayor zimmer's allegation." if continues, "mayor doherty did
not hear commissioner constable say anything about quid pro quos or make any threats to anyone. zimmer may have been associating the subjects in her own mind but that's not what constable said." so the report concludes that dougherty, quote, simply appears to be telling the truth as he recalls it. corroborates commissioner constable, not mayor zimmer." now here's the problem. when zimmer first made her allegations back in january, a reporter for the "asbury park press" who knew doherty had been present at the town hall meeting asked if he heard the conversation and he told that reporter that he hadn't. he said he recalled sitting between zimmer and constable on stage. that is a recollection that is incorrect. he was seated a bit off to zimmer's left. none of this, the "asbury park press" story or inaccuracy of his memory is mentioned in the mastro report, by the way. doherty is so central that the -- to the report's conclusion, that when he invited constable
to appear on the show, his office declined, but immediately helped us arrange an interview with dougherty instead, which we did. we had one basic question we wanted an answer to. did you hear the whole conversation between them or not? well, we're still trying to figure out what he said. the report is stating here that mayor doherty heard the conversation. the report is relying on you as an independent eyewitness who heard the conversation and can conclusively say that this did not come up. can you conclusively say this did not come up or are there parts of the conversation you did not hear? >> there may have been parts of the conversation i did not hear. what i can tell you for sure, what i did hear was about hazard mitigation. i never heard commissioner constable any way issue a threat or any quid pro quo. i did not hear commissioner constable in any way, shape or form threaten mayor zimmer. absolutely not. >> you're confident you heard the conversation? >> i'm confident i heard that conversation. >> she's making this up? >> did i hear every word of the conversation? i don't know. could he have whispered it, i guess? >> you observed to vffingsors
that mayor zimmer may have been associating subjects in her own mind. so you're suggesting she's -- >> no, no -- >> it's what you cold investigators. >> right, right. they said, do you think she's lying? i said, i don't believe she's lying. i think that she felt -- i think she felt threatened. absolutely. dawn zimmer is not a liar. dawn zimmer is an outstanding mayor. >> you're saying you heard nothing about a quid pro quo, saw nothing in his tone that was threatening, saw nothing in the exchange that seemed hostile? you believe she felt threatened? >> yeah, i take dawn zimmer for her word. i'm just saying when i was -- >> but she's making up what constable said? >> i'm just saying i never heard what she alleges richard constable said. >> okay. you never heard it and you heard the entire conversation? >> and i heard their conversation. >> the entire conversation? >> their conversation about hazard mitigation. if somehow there was something else that they were whispering, but they weren't, maybe i didn't hear part of it. but for what they were talking about, no, there was no quid quo pro, there were no threats.
>> so here's what i heard from matt doherty yesterday. he said he never heard anything like what zimmer is alleging but also said it's possible he didn't hear the whole conversation. then he said he thinks he does hear it all but also dawn zimmer isn't fabricating anything, even though he didn't hear constable say anything she alleges he said. he guesses it's possible he missed part of the conversation if they were whispering, then he quickly adds they weren't whispering. this is the man the mastro report is relying on. to discredit a major part of dawn zimmer's allegation against the christie administration. a man who back in january said he hadn't heard zimmer's conversation with constable, who didn't accurately remember where he was sitting on stage, who the mastro report now touts as a key eyewitness, as the key eyewitness who discredits what dawn zimmer is saying about richard constable. if you're not confused enough, we got this e-mail this morning from doherty saying he wanted to clear up things, "if there was any confusion." he says "regarding the conversation i heard between mayor zimmer and commissioner constable on the stage at monmouth university, i did not hear commissioner constable
threaten or use any language that implied a quid pro quo. the conversation i heard between the two of them focused on hazard mitigation in hoboken. mayor zimmer did most of the talking and commissioner constable most of the listening. it's my opinion any threat or quid pro quo would be opposite to constable's character as i know it. ths also my own opinion mayor zimmer is an excellent mayor of hoboken and someone i believe is honest and truthful. did he or did he not hear the entire conversation? the accuracy of the mastro report rests on that question. matt dougherty doesn't seem like he wants to answer it clearly. joining me to discuss why this is a crucial point, msnbc contributor brian murphy. assistant proffer -- professor of history. he's a former managing editor at politicsnj.com. thanks for joining us, brian. >> thanks for having me on. >> at the end of all of that yesterday, at the end of the final question, i asked, i had to sum it up for viewers. he led me to a point where i thought he had narrowed the possibility of him missing the conversation to such a
theoretical point that he was saying he was sure he heard it because he said there may have been -- he started by saying there may have been parts i hadn't heard. he says, if somehow there was something else they were whispering, but they weren't. he seemed to eliminate the one possibility they weren't saying it. i said, okay, so he surely heard -- so he's sure he heard it. he e-mails me this thing today. what do you make of this? >> i think it would be helpful if at this point the christie administration would allow or ask randy mastro to release all of the transcripts of all the interviews he conducted to see the sources and methods used to put together this report. i mean, it would be interesting to know since the statement has become contradictory, and he said right on your show, he said, well, if i heard something, you know, a bombshell, i would remember it. well, sure. right, that's the deal with bombshells. if he hears something outrageous, you're going to remember it. it doesn't mean that you heard everything. >> i wasn't clear what he was trying to accomplish because he allowed at the very beginning, he said there may have been parts of the conversation i didn't hear. every time i tried to follow up on that, you're basically saying
you didn't get the whole conversation, he reduced the likelihood that that happened. he narrowed it and narrowed it. i'm saying to myself, so this guy has gone from in january telling a reporter, you know, i didn't hear anything. then getting -- where he was sitting on the stage. i pping i eye think i was sitting between them. he gets that wrong in january. then he remembers it then gives this very increasingly, as the interview went on, confident assessment. this is the key eyewitness that this report is citing to say, dawn zimmer's full of it. >> this is -- randy mastro was picked by chris christie to be chris christie's lawyer to produce a report that, you know, by all reasonable accounts was going to, at the end of the day, exonerate chris christie. how you got from "a" to "z" was the question mark. the end point was never really in a tremendous amount of doubt. it would be really interesting to know how did he remember the details of this event? was he told by randy mastro and mastro's associates this is how it went down? which is coaching a witness.
he's been offered as a defense witness. this isn't a -- >> to make that point, yes, he was -- we called constable, cabinet secretary clinton -- clinton? excuse me. christie's office. said, do you want to come on? said, no. they basically helped arrange us to get in touch with matt doherty. >> that's right. he offered up this independent democrat. he doesn't want to call dawn zimmer a liar. >> right. >> and the fact of the -- you know, he couldn't have heard. if he isn't sitting between them, he couldn't have heard -- it isn't possible that he could have -- that he could rule out anything -- >> everything he says, i don't believe she's fabricating anything. >> right. >> so if he's as confident as he says, they may have been whispering but they weren't. he's pretty confident. >> he'd like to have it both ways. what you saw in the interview is a guy trying hard to walk this line where he supports what's in the report, and supports dawn zimmer, supports chris christie
and richard constable and he's sitting on your show. thank god he wasn't on for the full hour because if that had just gone on forever and ever, who knows what -- and the e-mail he sent to you reiterates the same confusion he showed on air. >> broaden this out. this is, you know, one allegation from dawn zimmer against one of these people. but this is the way that this was presented in the report versus the way that he appeared on our show yesterday. what does that say about the report more generally speaking? i think the suggestion in the report, what we've been finding as we go through it in general is that they've picked and chosen what facts they want to have bubble up in the narrative, and even in some of the exhibit documents they've included in there, there are things that contradict what's in the actual narrative of the report. so, you know, if it's a public document, if, you know, i think the million-dollar figure is probably a lowball. no matter how much it costs at the end of the day, this is being paid for by taxpayer dollars. all the parts of this should be public and it would be helpful and responsible at this point for them to just release everything.
let everybody see how this was done. how the interviews were conducted. who was interviewed. we don't even know who was interviewed. there's no reason that it shouldn't be public because public monies are being spent on this report and there's not really any excuse for that to not be out there. >> all right. msnbc contributor brian murphy. thanks for joining us tonight. >> thanks for having me. coming up next, sometimes what happens in vegas doesn't stay in vegas. >> we all get known and characterized for how we speak. maybe me more than some others. >> that was especially true for governor christie over the weekend. what he said and the fallout, that's ahead. through everyday g? [ male announcer ] sponges take your mark. ♪ [ female announcer ] one drop of ultra dawn has twice the everyday grease cleaning ingredients of one drop of the leading non-concentrated brand... ♪ [ crowd cheering ] ...to clean 2x more greasy dishes. dawn does more.
coming up, remember the upper big branch mine disaster in 2010? >> 14 months after the worst u.s. mining disaster in 40 years, government investigators today said mine operator massey energy had been misleading safety inspectors. just last month the governor of special investigators said company negligence likely caused the explosion. meanwhile, former ceo don
blankenship refused to talk to investigators. he retired last year with an $86 million package, while the company offered each of the miners' families $3 million. >> and now there's a new film that's funded by former massey energy ceo don blankenship that he says tells the truth about what really happened. he's going to be here to talk about it. that's ahead. i'm on expert on s. and tea parties. i'll have more awkward conversations than i'm equipped for, because i'm raising two girls on my own. i'll worry about the economy more than a few times before they're grown. but it's for them, so i've found a way. who matters most to you says the most about you. at massmutual we're owned by our policyowners, and they matter most to us. ready to plan for your future? we'll help you get there.
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>> i took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories, across, and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand the military risk that israel faces every day. >> obviously that anecdote was intended to let the hundreds of donors know they had nothing to worry about, when it came to christie sharing their strong attitudes toward israel, especially sheldon adelson who briefly made newt gingrich a competitive presidential candidate a couple years ago by donating $20 million to an outside group supporting his campaign. according to nj.com, adelson entered the room and sat front and center six minutes into christie's speech. he was there when christie used the phrase occupied territories to describe land where palestinians live and which israeli soldiers have a strong military presence. according to politico, christie was confronted by the president
of the zionist organization of america, to which adelson is a major donor, about his use of the term. christie met with adelson privately and as politico points out, clarified in the strongest terms possible his remarks were not meant to be a statement of policy. he was sorry for confusion that came across as a result of the misstatement. to fully understand the 2016 republican primary process is to understand why it's been dubbed by some, quote, the sheldon primary. this weekend, he whizzed around on a scooter, trailed by operatives and politicians eager to lavish him with praise and gratitude. john kasich, former florida governor, jeb bush. all this leaving a former strategist for george w. bush to look at it this way. >> i think it's ridiculous these candidates for president are trumping out to las vegas to kiss the ring of a billionaire casino owner. >> well, joining me now is nevada political journalist, jon
ralston. host oferalston report -- host of ralston reports. jon, maybe it's ridiculous, but, look, the guy obviously has more money than any other republican donor and looms large over the race. i guess the first question is, you know, you know him. you've reported on him extensively. when it comes to what he's looking for in a candidate, issues-wise, what would you say is sheldon adelson's priority list? what are the issues he's most concerned about? >> i think there are three really that stand out. number one by far is the one you were just talking about which is israel, which is why christie got into a little bit of trouble there then essentially had to go apologize in a private meeting with sheldon adelson. he also cares a lot about online gaming. it's his latest crusade. he's very much against that which christie also, by the way, has embraced in new jersey, but adelson is spending a lot of money, he's hired former politicians like george pataki and blanche lincoln to head up a front group on that. the third issue is the issue of unions. he's fought the culinary union
the most powerful union here in nevada for many, many years. i'm sure that's why a guy like scott walker is right in his wheelhouse. >> that's really interesting because there's been all this talk in the weeks leading up to this that adelson learned his lesson from the newt gingrich thing in 2012. this time he wanted to back a more electable candidate. you looked at christie before these scandals christie was perceived maybe as that elected candidate. on israel, he stepped it in terms of adelson's views this weekend. you have the online gaming thing. then a more basic question was raised. ari fleischer, he was quoted in politico today essentially saying sheldon adelson is not always going to back the best candidate. he said "if you think people like sheldon or george soros or tom steyer are going to be influenced by the thinking of others, you don't the mind-set of these highly entrepreneurial individuals.
they're going to do the best and right thing to do. has sheldon adelson learned anything from newt gingrich? >> i think most people misunderstood what happened with gingrich. that was back to 1995 when he was speaker, and they developed a relationship over the issue we were just talking about, israel. it was a deeply personal commitment he had to gingrich. people will not believe this, but sheldon adelson was naive about what would happen once he gave all that money to that group helping newt gingrich and change the dynamic in south carolina. he didn't expect to become a focal point. if he didn't expect to become a focus of national media attention back then, think what's going to happen in 2016 when he says he's going to spend a lot more money and when it won't be personal. now he wants to back someone who will win. i have to tell you, i talked to somebody very close to sheldon adelson who said he met with all these guys while they were out here. there was no clear favorite. let's face it. look what the date is. it's march 31st of 2014. this guy could change his mind six, eight times before he decides who to back. i'll tell you another thing. i don't think he's going to back
someone who is out of washington. i think he likes these governors. i think he actually likes christie. by the way, up until that occupied territories unforced error, christie probably had that room enraptured more than any of the other speakers. >> that's what i was going to ask you about. christie, the timing of the report being released, the press conference, i don't think was coincidental at all. he wanted to go out there and say, hey, i've been vindicated. quickly take us through how he was received out there. you said he had the audience captivated. what were they talking about behind the scenes with him? >> it was interesting because christie spoke last in the morning. as you mentioned, he stayed up late, went to the two ncaa games and got on a plane very early. he was obviously tired by the time he got to las vegas, gave a speech about 11:15. he was the last speech of the morning. he was the most anticipated speech. he was by far the most comfortable of any of them up there. his style clearly was well received by the audience. he was even asked a question, by
the way, about bridge-gate in which he was asked what lessons has he learned. he took it without any sign of being upset about it at all. said he learned to be more questioning, gave the usual answers you've heard. the crowd really liked him. it was only, i'd say it was half and half. half thought he did a great job. the other half were saying, what, did he just say occupy territories? >> i guess that's a danger of a trip to sheldon adelson land. jon ralston. host of ralston report, thank you for joining us tonight. coming up, obamacare looks like it could be a big success story for the white house. the right is doing everything it -- everything they can to knock it down. >> obamacare signups hit a new high. wait until you hear how the white house hit that number. did the administration target illegals? >> that would be illegal, wouldn't it? >> misinformation campaign, next. dentures are very different to real teeth.
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today, on deadline day, the affordable care act's insurance exchanges is poised to hit 7 million enrollees. a number that looked inconceivable just six months ago when the website was having embarrassing launch problems. the influx of up to 1.5 million visitors by noon on the federal health care exchange led to a brief lag in its ability to handle new applications, but that was quickly resolved according to cnbc. according to the "l.a. times" obamacare spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in america in half a century. at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. some have done so through marketplaces, others through
private insurance and others through medicaid. for the first time, in a major national poll, support for the law exceeds opposition. latest "washington post"/abc news poll finding that 49% support the affordable care act. 48% still oppose it. the most stunning number from today is 7 million. that's the number of enrollees the congressional budget office had estimated for this stage of enrollment. a number that often seemed very far out of reach. but now with about 6 million enrolled before today, excuse me, about 6 million enrolled before today. 7 million is a very real possibility. i'm sorry, i'm having teleprompter problems i've never had before. i'm going to get it back together here. anyone who at least registers for health care by midnight will have until april 15th to complete the process. so after a supreme court battle which ultimately upheld the constitutionality of the affordable care act after a government shutdown designed to gut the law, after 50 votes in the house of representatives to repeal the law, after 25 states either refused to expand
medicaid or are still debating it, after states like florida tried to get in the way of the navigators helping people to get signed up on the exchanges, after all of that and more, they were left to question without hard evidence the credibility of the enrollment numbers. >> they have no numbers for how many people have paid for coverage, how many so-called young invincibles have signed up nor how many people who signed up who were previously uninsured. senator barrasso, given that, how much does this 6 million number actually mean? >> i don't think it means anything, chris. the -- i think they're cooking the books on this. people want to know the answers to that. >> and fox news resorted to making graphics that tried to portray 6 million enrollees as actually only about a third of the enrollment goal of 7 million. check that out. anyway, joining me now is my msnbc colleague, karen finney, host of "disrupt." thanks for joining us, karen. i guess my first question after stumbling my way through that is if obamacare is going to have coverage for teleprompter reading coverage. i think i'm on my own for that.
a milestone, a month, two months ago, nobody thought we were going to hit. clearly the headlines are good for obamacare. the headlines are good for the administration. i can't help but think, though, since five years ago when this was working its way through congress, enactment, a couple of election, i keep hearing we finally reached that milestone where people are going to start saying, yes, i like this law, i'm feeling the benefits. i'm seeing it's working. i'm sure it's 49% support right now, but that point seems elusive. when is that point going to actually get here, you think? >> i think we're actually getting there because if you take a look at the kaiser poll from last week, there was some pretty interesting stuff doing -- going on tin the numbers whih showed people are tired of the fight over the affordable care act, they just want to fix what needs to be fixed and let's move on to other priorities. one of the most interesting things is there's still a large percentage of people who don't know much about the affordable care act. obviously, as you showed in the intro, there's so much misinformation out there and so
much money has been spent against the information, the correct information on the affordable care act. i actually think that tells us there is a pretty wide number of people to still sign up and get the correct information and to then see a change in opinion. i got to say, so far from what we're hearing, the people who've signed up are pretty happy. >> so, i mean, that brings us to the question, if that change you're talking about starts to take hold now, i mean, 2014 obviously we're talking about an election year, a midterm election year, though. in story of modern politics is this is supposed to be a bad year for democrats because of turnout. and you got republicans who are already saying, hey, look, we're running on anti-obamacare, do the same thing we did in 2010. given that turn-out trend, if this is a good year for republicans and a bad year for democrats and republicans run on the anti-obamacare message, even if this is working, what does
that mean for future of the law? >> what it means, people ought to be clear about, if the democrats lose the senate, it means we're going to spend a lot more time toward the rest of the obama term with -- i think it's up to 54 votes in the house now against to repeal obamacare. so i think we would look forward -- we should be prepared for a lot more of that. i have to say something, steve. democrats should be ashamed to run away from this. i mean, i worked in the clinton administration, and bill clinton tried to get this done, hillary clinton tried to get this done. and i remember people who -- i had a friend who was waiting to have a knee surgery, waiting for health care to pass. and now it's done. it may not be perfect, but it can be fixed. running away from it is a real shame and a losing strategy for democrats. i think they need to flip the script on this one and run on it and be very positive about what's been delivered for the country. >> you know, the other thing i wondered, too, i guess is, look, we call it obamacare now, and the administration's, you know, embraced the term. obviously barack obama's going to be out of office come january 2017. we presume this law will still
be around, will be even more in effect then than it is now. i wonder just when the name obama is detached from it with the end of his administration if the political polarization that's driven so much the opposition to it, maybe is that the moment when it melts away? >> it might be. you know, our colleague, perry bacon from the grio actually did research in kentucky and found when he talked to people about, you know, obamacare, it was a different conversation than when you talked about the expansion of health care reform, right? so i think that has certainly been part of the demonization of the program, and it shouldn't be. i think the administration tried to embrace it as a way to say, okay, fine, obamacare, we'll call it that and hopefully the problem has been, though, steve, as you know, that that stops people from understanding what's actually in it. right? they hear that and kind of stops them cold in their tracks almost. and so hopefully, yes, at some point, that will end. and frankly, also remember, the republicans are now looking at a point where they're having -- they're going to have to make an
argument for taking something away from people. and they're going to have to make an argument for what are you going to replace it with? i do think that starts to shift the conversation as well. >> maybe that's when people find out what obamacare is, when they say we're taking this thing away from you, oh, that's obamacare. oh, i want to keep that. anyway, karen finney, thanks for joining us tonight. catch her show "disrupt" weekends at 4:00 p.m. on msnbc. we'll be right back. s you can rely on. with centurylink as your trusted it partner, you'll experience reliable uptime for the network and services you depend on. multi-layered security solutions keep your information safe, and secure. and responsive dedicated support meets your needs, and eases your mind. centurylink. your link to what's next. you're not doing anything as fast as you used to, which is funny, 'cause i still do it better than her. [ afi ] i do not like sweeping! it's a little frustrating. [ zach ] i can't help out as much as i used to.
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>> on april 5th, 2010, an explosion at west virginia's upper big branch mine killed 29 miners in what was the worst coal mining accident in the united states since 1970. scathing investigation released the following year by the mine safety and health administration found the mine's owner, massey energy and the massey subsidiary that ran the mine were largely responsible for the tragedy. finding they engaged in multitell examples of systematic, intentional and aggressive sub standards which allowed conditions to exist that sat the stage for a catastrophic mine explosion. last year a massey executive sentenced to 42 months in jail for being part of a corporate conspiracy to evade surprise mine safety inspections by giving advance warning to miners underground. the u.s. attorney for the district, booth goodwin told
"all in" the investigation into practicing at massy is very much ongoing and one of the highest if not the highest priority of this office. upper big branch explosion was not the first time miners were killed at a massey facility. company and its chief officer faced lawsuits from widows in 2006. cited a memo the ceo sent to mine superintendents telling them to ignore requests to do anything other than run coal including building ventilation controls called overcast designed to keep mines safe. the author of that memo, don blankenship, former massey ceo. who has long loomed large in west virginia. mr. blankenship was known for fighting unions inside mines, and bank rolled a successful effort to topple a worker-friendly judge. railed against regulators in what he calls people of the far left communist persuasion. he argues climate change is a hoax designed to line the pockets of those pushing cleaner forms of energy. today, nearly four years after the upper big branch mine disaster, don blankenship has released a documentary he says tells the truth about what happened. blankenship disputes the official finding that the explosion was caused by a methane explosion that led to a
massive coal dust explosion which would have been contained or prevented if massey and its subsidiary followed basic safety procedures. don blankenship is here and he joins me now. thanks for joining us tonight. so we're coming up on the anniversary. you have this new documentary. it's coming out. why did you release it, and in layman's terms here, because not everybody sort of knows methane and natural gas, these sorts of things. in layman's terms, what is the main argument you're trying to advance with this documentary? >> mostly it's to refute most of what you just said. you know, the company did a very good job at the mine. in the mine, as the documentary says, every day. basically the mine blew up because of a natural gas inundation which now people realize and it will happen again if something's not done about it. people need to go to ubbneveragain.com and take a look at the documentary and see for themselves. >> now, i guess the issue i would take with that, there have been three different reports
authored about this -- about the disaster. one was a federal report. one was a state report. one was an independent report commissioned by joe manchin, governor of west virginia at the time. all three of the reports reached the same conclusion. "charleston daily mail" said core ventilation, dangerous amounts of coal dust in a corporate atmosphere that valued profit over safety. that's what those reports concluded was the root cause of this disaster. you're saying, no, it's natural gas. why should we believe you over what three reports are saying? >> simply put because the chemistry says it was natural gas. and all those reports ignore that fact. the government's own samples show it was natural gas contained ethane and propane. so all those -- >> they're ignoring it, why would they be ignoring it? why would all three of these, federal, state, independent, be ignoring it? >> you've told some of those reasons and the fact that i've been very politically involved,
i don't believe in climate change, being man-made and a whole host of other reasons. the bottom line is it is natural gas. the mine exploded because of natural gas. it could happen again. there are a lot of things done today that's making miners unsafe. basically you have an opportunity to help us make the mines safer tonight, not just a personal attack, but a focus on what really happened at ubb. >> i'm not trying to make a personal attack. i have more questions. we're at a point where there have been three high-ranking massey officials who faced federal criminal convictions because of this. one of them was a man named david hughart. i have it here. this is the plea hearing last year. what he was convicted of was basically giving a heads-up to miners when safety inspectors were coming so they could quickly clean up safety violations is not be detected. that's what he was convicted of. he was asked in this plea hearing by the judge whether those warnings were part of company policy. he said that they were ordered by the chief executive officer which would be you. so was that a policy, is that
correct what he said, to give a heads-up, saying the inspectors are coming? >> an individual i fired for the same thing he was arrested for. fired for stealing and for using drugs. they tagged on this thing about notification of inspectors which is a complete falsehood as far as i'm aware. bottom line is the mine exploded because of natural gas. the truth needs to be out there. it's worse than that. other things. changing the way things are done in the ground. reducing ventilation. taking away air. turning off miners' scrubbers. creating an environment that's unsafe for the miners. and the government is doing that partially out of ignorance and partially just because of the power they have. if something's not done, it's not going to matter. >> i tell you, you know, joe manchin, who's known -- the senator from west virginia, the governor when this happened, he's known nationally as a friend of the coal industry. he's featured actually in this documentary. he put out a statement today
making clear now that he knows who was behind the documentary, he wants nothing to do with it. i want to read this statement. this is unusually strong terms from a u.s. senator. he says "adroit films, the propaganda film behind the shameful documentary never disclosed to me the intent of this film. they lied to my face and told me the documentary was focused on mine safety, an issue i've been committed to since the farmington mine disaster that killed my uncle and 77 miners. had i known the film was in any way associated with don blankenship, i would not have agreed to the interview. i'm more enraged blankenship would promote himself and his agenda. i'm going to pursue every recuse available against adroit's despicable tactics. the families of the miners are forced to suffer yet again at the hands of don blankenship." that's an extremely strong statement from the united states senator about you. did you mislead joe manchin? did he know? that this film was being made by you? >> i didn't talk personally to
joe manchin. joe manchin didn't say anything in there that will save coal miners' lives or make it safer or healthier for them. he's spewing the same thing, type of rhetoric they spew for a long time to camouflage the truth that the mine blew up because of natural gas. they can talk all they want to about the things he's speaking about there. the documentary didn't have a purpose in making senator manchin happy or have as a purpose to blast anyone. it basically had as a purpose to make miners safer. >> was there some kind of attempt to get joe manchin in, to make it look credible to have a senator in it? >> adroit films did it. i don't know what kind of conversation they had with senator manchin. i funded the documentary. i wasn't present when senator manchin was spoken to. >> don blankenship is going to stay with us. coming up, we're going to be joined by someone who has a different view on coal mining. stay with us. increases at the age of 80. helps reduce the risk of heart disease. it seems that 80 is the new 18. grannies, bless your heart, you are bringing sexy back!
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don blankenship. the man directly blamed for this tragic accident believes that he has always done his best to live up to his responsibility for miner safety. >> joining me now is bob kincaid, radio broadcaster on the head on radio network in west virginia and co-founder of the appalachian community health emergency campaign. still with me here in new york, don blankenship, former chairman and ceo of massey energy. bob, i'll start with you. you heard the last segment. don is making this case we had a federal investigation, state investigation, independent investigation. he said they all ignored the root cause of this disaster. root cause had to do with natural gas. get your response to what you heard in the last segment. >> steve, i not only heard what mr. blankenship had to say, i also watched his film. and while the first several minutes of it are the typical pro-coal propaganda that we're used to here in the appalachian sacrifice zone, the fact of the
matter is this isn't a search for truth nearly so much as it is mr. blankenship's personal search for an alibi. at least that's the way i saw it in light of the fact of -- in light of what the u.s. attorney has been doing thus far. >> well, personal search for an alibi? give you a chance to respond to that, don. >> anybody who knows the law would think no one would do this who's looking for an alibi. to be outspoken about what really happened, most people would recommend against it. it's the opposite. bottom line is the mine blew up because of natural gas. the government had taken a lot of air off the face. they're turning various miners' scrubbers off which makes no sense to the experts. it's ridiculous what's going on. it's unfortunate the media won't look at the truth for themselves. i mean, if there's ethane in the gas, propane in the gas, it's natural gas. if it's natural gas, why doesn't the media at least acknowledge it was natural gas and we'll go from there?
>> well, so, bob, back in west virginia, we're approaching the anniversary. i think it's, you know, next week now. what -- the timing of this for don blankenship to be releasing this documentary, making a case that goes against the three reports out there. are you hearing anything from the community, anything from the families? you know, are they anxious to see this documentary, to hear this version of events? is this rubbing them the wrong way? >> steve, this is a crying shame is what it is. the fact of the matter is old wounds are being reopened, and at least a couple of families are more than a little bit upset about this. that i've been able to hear of thus far. the fact of the matter is, what mr. blankenship says about all the methane, the natural gas, the film is full of speculation about that. but there's nothing in the 51 minutes that i watched that's even remotely concrete.
the people whose families suffered through this, who have suffered as a result of mr. blankenship, well, frankly, they don't deserve to be dragged through this all over again. mr. blankenship's record speaks for itself. he has a trail of death and destruction behind him at upper big branch, at aracoma, as you mentioned. he has scores of violations. it's the way he ran his business. and ultimately, even people who didn't work for him, didn't work around him, but merely lived in communities near his operations are suffering, feeling a health crisis that's expanding all over appalachia. >> don, 30 seconds. >> i'm trying to prevent other families from suffering, if the government doesn't give people with expertise the opportunity to run their mines. >> okay. bob kincaid from the appalachian community health emergency
campaign, and don blankenship, former chairman and ceo of massey energy. thank you both for joining us. that's "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" begins now. good evening, rachel. that was riveting. that was a great interview. well done, man. >> thank you. thanks to you at home for joining us the next hour. the great steve kornacki sitting in for chris hayes for the last hour because chris hayes is at home with his adorable new baby boy. and in a heartless and shameless act, because chris is home with his new baby boy, i'm going to take advantage of the fact that chris is not here in the building by stealing from him the greatest piece of tape, the greatest assemblage of visual evidence that anybody has ever put together on the subject of obamacare. oh, yes, chris hayes. you may be a brand new father and everybody think it's adorable and i do, too, but while you're away, i'm stealing your death spiral montage. >> the exchanges don't work and you wind up going into what they